Alana lifted her arm, pointing her ivory finger in the direction of a long crack in the cave wall. “Go, girls.” She said lightly. “Two years goes by faster than you’d think.” Her fake smile twitched slightly at the edge and I felt like I was seeing through her façade for a moment.
I followed behind Cassandra and Levi as we walked anxiously to the edge of the cracked stone, looking up out of it. Levi went out first, her bare feet sinking into the sand slightly as she walked out into the deep blue/black water.
I took a deep breath and followed her out, Cassandra catching up right behind me. Once we were out of the cave, it was much harder to see. I’d jump every time I’d feel the slimy sides of fish knocking into my arms or my ankles. You could barely see a few feet away from your face, not that there was really anything to see anyway. Levi sighed and I turned to look at her. She was staring up towards the surface of the water, eyes locked on the shimmer of light hundreds of feet over us. “How do we get up there?” She asked, dropping her big blue eyes down to mine.
I looked up at the light again and tried to push off of the sand below me, but I was weighted down. “I don’t know.” I muttered confused. “How are we supposed to do anything if we don’t even know how to swim?”
“Just breathe, and focus on rising.” A squeaky voice said from behind us and we all turned around to stare in awe at the large jelly fish floating there. It was very pretty, seeming to glow white even in these deep depths, and its long tentacles were a brilliant red.
Cassandra’s mouth was hanging open, little bubbles rushing from it, “Please tell me that jelly fish did not just talk to us.” She said, snapping her mouth shut.
The jelly floated off towards the cave. “If you don’t want my help, that’s fine.” The high little voice came from it again.
“Oh my god, we have to be in a dream.” Levi said and she brought her hands up to both sides of her head, looking like she was trying to crush her own skull to make herself wakeup.
“Nightmare.” Cassandra shook her head helplessly.
I looked at the other girls and had to laugh. This was all so ridiculous, there just wasn’t anything else that seemed like a rational response. Cassandra and Levi stared at me and the jelly fish stopped moving away. “I’m sorry.” I apologized, putting my hand back over my mouth. “Will you help us?” I asked the jelly fish, the insanity of asking a sea creature for help not wasted on me.
The jelly continued to sway its long red tentacles, but it didn’t swim away. “You have to focus your mind where you want to go.” It said. “You’ll hover up and out of the water.”
Levi put her hands on her hips, titling her head. “How do you know this?” She asked the jelly.
“I was like you.” The jelly responded in a whisper. “Alana takes her deals very seriously, you should remember that. Now go.” It told us.
“You didn’t collect all the souls?” Cassandra asked, but it didn’t answer her. “What’s your name?” She asked it.
“It was Armela.” She whispered. “Now I’m nothing.” My heart felt heavy from the sadness in her sweet high voice. As sad as I was for Armela, I was also much more terrified now. This is just proof that if I don’t do what Alana demands, I’ll be some kind of creature for the rest of my life. “Go.” She urged again, and I turned my eyes back up to the surface of the water, my resolve strengthening.
I stared hard, willing myself to move, and just like that, my body wasn’t heavy anymore, and it floated upward slowly. I heard Levi curse under her breath as she tried a couple of times unsuccessfully, but finally I looked back to see her and Cassandra moving up behind me. “This is crazy.” Cassandra said with a brilliant smile that spread across her whole face.
The water got lighter and warmer the closer we got to the surface, and I was feeling a little bit more like myself as my head broke free from the water and I stopped, suspended with just my head and shoulders out of the water while I looked around. We were in an open area of a bay I assume. To the left of us there was a large island with an emerald green and blue watered cove.
That’s what Alana had called it. I looked out to the right but there was nothing but open waters for miles. A little ways ahead of us there was a tiny little island and we made our way over to it, the sand under my feet as I walked ashore making me feel human again.
When I was completely out of the water finally I looked down my body and my human feeling was gone. My dress was blowing around me in the warm breeze, and so was my hair. Totally dry.
I went back to the water, putting my arm down into a wave as it crashed ashore and I watched in amazement as the water just beaded off of my skin like I was entirely water proof. Levi came to squat beside me, trying the same thing and smiling to herself as the water rolled off her skin. “Well, that is kind of cool.” She said nodding her head then she smiled at me.
“Yeah.” I laughed lightly. “Kind of.”
Cassandra was standing with her back to us, looking into the line of short palm trees that lined the beach of the tiny island. “Do you think there are any people around here?” She asked and I felt nerves in my stomach, thinking I hoped there wouldn’t be any people today.
Levi shook her head. “I don’t think so.” She told her. “I think you can see clear to the other side of this island.” I squinted to see she was right. You could see little glimpses of blue water through the trees on the other side if you looked hard enough. “Any people are going to be on that bigger one over there.” She said pointing back over towards the cove.
I nodded my head. “You’re probably right.” I agreed. “That’s a well-kept beach.” I pointed out. “And as big as that cove is, I’d be willing to bet that there is a resort or something nearby. You can make loads of money off of stuff like that.” I explained. “I know all the places I’ve stayed at always have some kind of ‘exclusive’ island feature like that so that they can charge you double.” I said twirling my hair around my finger. “The one I stayed at last had a waterfall like a four minute hike from the resort.”
Levi shielded her eyes from the sun and stared over at the cove. “Sounds like you’ve done your fair share of island resort hopping.” She muttered under her breath.
I rolled my eyes at her snarky tone. “Yeah, I have.” I said smugly. “Yet here I am, in the same boat as you.” I pointed out and she dropped her pissed expression.
“Yeah, you’re right.” She smiled lightly. “Sorry.”
I nodded my head to her. “It’s ok.”
I thought about my big nice bedroomroom waiting for me back at our vacation house on the beach and I sighed to myself. I wish I would have just done the four minute hike to see the waterfall, but I’d been too afraid to get dirty or sweaty. I wished I was back there, taking part in whatever festivities they have going on.
I bet there isn’t anything fun happening there now though. At least I hope not. I’m sure everyone thinks I’m dead, and I guess I kind of am, but still. It freaking sucked to think about my family and friends there, thinking about me. I’ll bet they are all heartbroken. The image Alana showed me of Asher crying popped into my head and I had hold my hand to my chest to stop the ache it caused. He looked so sad with his aqua eyes full of tears and his red cheeks. I’d give anything to let him know that I’m alright.
A big white bird flew over my head and I turned to watch it fly out over the water, dipping down to the surface trying to catch fish, then I saw the small motor boat in the distance. “Someone’s coming!” I shouted and both girls jumped.
My heart was racing, torn between waving the person down to ask them to save me from this insane nightmare, and wanting them to just keep going just in case it was a man and I’d have to kill him.
“What do we do?” Cassandra asked, her voice high and a small wrinkle forming between her furrowed brows.
I grabbed her and Levi by the wrists and pulled them over to duck down behind the biggest of the palm trees. “Why are we hiding?” Levi asked as the boat got closer.
I turned my head to her and raised my eyebrows. “I don’t know.” I admitted. “I don’t know how to do this.” I told her.
“I don’t want to do this.” Cassandra whispered.
Levi shushed her quickly. “Don’t say that again.” She scolded. “Alana is probably watching us or listening right now. Don’t get in trouble again.”
Cassandra pushed her long hair aside and bit down on her thick bottom lip. “Ok, yeah, you’re right.” She said nodding her head so much it looked like she was trying to convince herself it was ok.
The boat sped past our little island and my stomach sank down when I could make out that the driver was guy. “Shit.” I muttered.
We all watched in heavy silence as he stopped his little boat a few yards away from the cove and stood up, taking off his red tank top, then he jumped in the water, swimming effortlessly over to the shore. “One of us needs to go.” Cassandra said, looking at Levi.
Levi looked back at her. “What?” She said. “I’m not doing it.”
I watched him as he walked up onto the beach and he leaned over to shake the water out of his shoulder length dark brown hair, his wet deep golden tanned skin glistening in the sun. I was so caught up in watching him that I didn’t bother listening to what the other two were saying until Levi said my name.
“Huh?” I asked, looking to my side at them.
“You’re doing it.” Levi informed me with grin.
“Um, no.” I said quickly as if it was obvious.
They both looked at me hard. “We just played rock-paper-scissors for it and you were too busy making goo goo eyes at the dude to pay attention, so you’re it.” Levi smiled and Cassandra shrugged timidly. “Let me know if he has a full six pack, it’s hard to tell from here.” Levi winked at me.
I sighed loudly. “I’ll go next.” Cassandra said quietly like it would make me feel any better.
“Fine.” I relented, kind of just wanting to get this terrible thing over with. The sooner I do my job for Alana, the sooner I can go home to my family and Asher. I stood up slowly, walking down to the water’s edge, glancing back for just a second to see the girls smiling and nodding to me encouragingly.
I walked slowly into the water, leaving only my head out as I made my way out to his boat. I hid behind it for a little while, just watching him as he walked around cleaning up the beach, moving any broken trees or debris away from the sandy beach and further up into the island. I gasped as he turned my way. He caught me, and I knew there wasn’t anything else to do.
Running away wasn’t an option. Alana said this area isn’t very easy to find prey in and so I’m sure I’d be punished if I let one get away. I straightened my back and walked up the sand bank into his view. He dropped the palm branch he was holding and his eyes were glued to mine as I walked slowly out of the water, my blonde hair flying around my head wildly. Despite myself I got a slight confidence boost in myself as I noticed his jaw actually drop a little.
I could feel my heart slamming against my chest bone, and my fingers shook slightly, but I walked straight up to him, staring hard at his face. Once I was close enough that I could see his golden brown eyes set deep into his strong face, I couldn’t help thinking he had an awfully chiseled face for someone who didn’t seem to be much older than me. Only a year or two. I dropped my eyes for just a second before looking back up at him. Levi will be happy to know that he does in fact have a full six pack, one like I’ve only seen in fitness magazines, never in real life. His shoulders were wide and covered with little sun spots from over exposure to the sun, and he had a dark scar that reached from the outside tip of his left eyebrow, down passed his cheek bone.
I was a little more caught up in staring at him than I was with my mission so I had to shake my head just a little to try to focus. I thought about all of the movies and shows I’ve seen where the girl has to be seductive and I gave him my best coy smile, which he returned and began walking towards me. My heart rate only quickened as I backed away from him, leading him to the water.
I was in the water up to my waist and he was in up to his hips, his eyes still glued to mine like he was in a trance. I continued to back into the waves until the water was inching up to my chin and I began to slow down, fearing the part when he goes under.
He stopped walking, though.
Then he broke out into a deep roaring laugh, backing back out of the water and walking back up the beach. “Oh, man.” He said in his deep voice. “That never does get old.” He said still laughing and slapping his hand against his thigh. I just stood in the water, the waves smacking me in the back of the head, watching him in confusion. “Clearly you’re new.” He said, his laugh fading and his voice becoming more annoyed. “Your stupid little tricks don’t work on me.”